‘Revolution!’ It is 1917, and revolution stirs in Petrograd. Actually, it is a balmy Friday afternoon in September 2014 and we are in leafy Kew, where cries of students are sounding out through the corridors here at The National Archives. We are observing some of the events of Russia’s February revolution, as imagined by a group of drama and art students of The Wren Academy, from Barnet in north London, who have just participated in an education-led workshop.
The students, aged between 14 and 16, have never visited an archive before, and today their visit is a little different from that of most school groups passing through our doors. Firstly, they are not here as part of their history curriculum. They have come to learn about the Russian revolution and its context within the First World War. They are also exploring the motivations and actions of a British armoured car squadron, stationed in Petrograd to assist the Tsarist government, and especially those of Commander Oliver Locker-Lampson, its enigmatic and rather swashbuckling leader! The students’ workshop today will help inspire artwork and a piece of theatre which will be showcased at the Victoria and Albert museum (V&A), later this year.